A story in a dystopian world where people live either on the land or at sea.
People from these two separate worlds don't mix or mingle- Landlockers fancy themselves supirior to the Dampling filth, and Damplings see Landlockers as snotty folk with strange tradition and a even stranger liking of the land.
North is a performer on circus boat called the Excalibur. Dampling from birth, she doesn't understand people who are so attached to the stagnant land. After losing her parent in an unfortunate accident in the circus as a young child, the other preformers are her family and the circus, her home.
She is the bear trainer on the Excalibur, and between dance performances she give with her bear on nights when the circus docks for the evening when passing a town, she lives a chaotic life at sea. The circus is not what it once was and the performers are struggling to make a living enough to fill their stomachs. The ringmaster's wife is unpredictable and pretty mean person, she has it out for North and is willing to crush her to get what she wants. The ringmaster himself is trying to force North to marry his son. Between that and a deadly storm at sea- North harbors a secret. She is with child, under the weirdest of circumstances (really, so weird, but I won't spoil), and all she really wants is for her child and bear to be safe. And maybe avoid marrying the man she doesn't love (eww) and becoming a Landlocker (double eww).
Callanish is a Gracekeeper. This means she receives bodies of deceased Damplings, prepares them for burial and then buries them at sea (Kind of the equivalent of a gravedigger/graveyard keeper along with ritualistic priest and mortician). She lives alone on her own little island on which she preforms the Restings. Her life is quite hermit-like. She only talks to people in passing and never leaves her station. Her life is quite empty and lonely. She has her own secret she harbors, as to why she was self-exiled from her native island become a Gracekeeper and what she is covering up under her silk gloves and slippers...
They meet one day when tragedy strike at the circus, arriving at the Gracekeeper's island, and there is a connection between them that neither can deny. But they come from different worlds and lead very different lives, so North leaves with the tide. Neither can forget the other. Will their paths meet again?
Though quite mystical, nothing in this book was downright magical most of the time- it was the narrative that laced everything in magic (will definitely be reading more by Kristy Logan). Just like a fairytale. Somehow circus stories are colorfully magical in there own way. It was lovely.
I loved the multiple points of view that gave more to the story and different looks at what was going on -but left more frayed endings! So many questions!
It could be very sad and depressing at times, but was full of life and hope and magic as well.
The strange and vivid world was charming, even when laced with conflict, chasms and loneliness.
So very recommended. Read if you've dreamt of running away to the circus or just if you like reading about them to run away for an hour or two in your mind.
Fans of The Night Circus might like this one as well!